All Blocked Up?
What Causes a Cold?
Over 200 different viruses cause colds, the most common being the rhinoviruses. The virus spreads through coughing, sneezing and touching things that have been handled by a cold sufferer and mainly affects the lining of the nose and throat, sometimes spreading to the chest with sore throat, congestion, cough, headache, sneezing and tiredness the predominant symptoms.
One of the defining symptoms of a cold is congestion which makes us feel ‘blocked up’ and restricts our breathing. Mucus has a protective function in the respiratory system, acting as a barrier to foreign particles and bacteria and carrying them out of the body when we sneeze, cough or blow our nose. In a cold though, the build up of mucus may become a breeding ground for bacteria with its moist, nutrient rich environment which is why it’s helpful to assist the body to clear this excess congestion during a cold.
Herbs For Congestion Relief
To loosen phlegm and help expel excess mucus through coughing or clearing the throat:
- Elecampane (Inula helenium)
- Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
- Pelargonium (Pelargonium sidoides)
- Sundew (Drosera longifolia)
- Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
- Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) – also suitable for an irritating dry cough often at the end of a cold.
Note that Licorice may exacerbate symptoms of fluid retention or high blood pressure in some people so seek professional advice if these symptoms are present.
Herbs For Cold Prevention
Useful to take for the purpose of supporting our immune system and preventing colds:
- Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
- Echinacea root (Echinacea angustifolia/purpurea)
- Elder Berry (Sambucus nigra)
- Withania (Withania somnifera)
Other Tips for Good Immune Health
Of course, our lifestyle plays a role in whether or not we enjoy robust immune health. Eating a healthy diet with lots of fresh, unprocessed food lays the foundation for good health. :
- Get 6-8 hours sleep every night
- Eat a balanced diet consisting largely of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, nuts and seeds.
- Drink at least two litres of water a day
- Manage your stress. Regular massages, long walks and taking time out to relax and do things you enjoy can all help reduce stress and its impact on the immune system.
- Exercise – we all know it’s important but how much do we make it a part of our lives?
- Zinc and vitamin C are helpful nutrients to support the immune system. Zinc is found in shellfish and red meat with pumpkin seeds being a high vegetarian source. Vitamin C is high in red capsicum, guavas, kale, broccoli, kiwifruit and citrus with Kakadu Plum (an Australian native) being the highest source.
Need Further Help?
Book an acute case consult and have a personalised herbal formula made up specifically for your needs. If recurrent colds and chronic immune issues have been troubling you or your children for a while, a full naturopathic consultation is advised to look at all aspects of your health picture.